Coral Reef Restoration for Risk Reduction: A Guide to Project Design and Proposal Development

Austen E. Stovall, Michael W. Beck, Curt Storlazzi, Juliette Hayes, Janan Reilly, Jen Koss, Doug Bausch
Posted on: 1/20/2023 - Updated on: 1/23/2023

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) are working through the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force to provide guidance on the development of coral reef restoration proposals for federal hazard mitigation funding.

Coral reef restoration for risk reduction (CR4) projects are designed to reduce flood or erosion risks by rehabilitating, recovering, and restoring reefs. This Guide focuses on projects for flood risk reduction. CR4 projects differ from solely ecological coral restoration projects, because CR4 projects aim to meet two different management objectives for environmental conservation and hazard mitigation. They often will require more specific placement and planning, detailed hydrodynamic analyses, and can require larger project scales to meet both objectives. CR4 is a relatively new approach and stakeholders including community leaders, natural resource managers, and government entities, may often not know when and where it can be used for flood risk reduction nor how to apply for hazard mitigation or recovery funding for CR4 projects.

This Guide aims to provide potential project proponents from organizations to agencies an understanding of the key steps needed and critical information sources available to support CR4 proposals. This document guides potential applicants through the project conception, design, and implementation phases of a CR4 project. The Guide covers vital elements, including project scoping, identification of the project team, selection of site(s), benefit-cost analysis, identification of regulatory requirements, and potential funding opportunities.

Applications for federal assistance will usually need to be led and submitted by a local, state, territorial, or commonwealth agency. However, many stakeholders and project proponents can be involved in developing the project proposal and funding application. Further, the approaches outlined in this Guide can support many other nature-based projects and proposals beyond reef restoration for federal hazard mitigation funding.


Stovall A.E., M.W. Beck, C. Storlazzi, J. Hayes, J. Reilly, J. Koss, D. Bausch. (2022). Coral Reef Restoration for Risk Reduction (CR4): A Guide to Project Design and Proposal Development. [white paper]. University of California Santa Cruz.

Affiliated Organizations

UC Santa Cruz opened in 1965 and grew considerably offering more than 60 majors by divisional deans of humanities, physical and biological sciences, social science, and arts. The Institute of Marine Sciences serves as an organized research unit of the University of California and has the responsibility to encourage, develop, and support marine science research and education.